Best Expat Countries

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Best Expat Retirement Countries of 2024

Thinking about where to spend the best years of your life? Picture this: you're relaxing on a sunny beach in Costa Rica or wandering through a lively market in Mexico. Sounds like a dream, right? With Ideal Living, we make your retirement dreams a reality by guiding you to the best expat retirement countries around the globe. Whether you're in search of adventure, relaxation, or just a change of scenery, we've got you covered.

Lisbon rooftops
Beautiful skyline view of scenic Lisbon, Portugal.

Why Retire Abroad?

Retiring abroad is like hitting the refresh button on life. It's not just about new views – it's about new experiences, friends, and even better value for your money. Imagine living where you get more bang for your buck, with top-notch healthcare that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, in a community where every day brings a new adventure.

From the most affordable countries for retirement to those offering tax-free living for U.S. citizens, there's a world of choice waiting for you. If you're curious about which country is the safest to retire in or where most expats are flocking to, we've got all the insider info you need. Ideal Living is here to help you navigate the exciting journey of retiring abroad, making it easier for you to choose your perfect retirement haven.

Top Picks for 2024: Where Should You Retire?

Let's explore some top-notch destinations that cater to every taste and need. Whether you're looking for the safest country to retire in, the country that boasts the most robust healthcare, or the best countries to retire on a budget, our list has something for everyone.

How about embracing the laid-back vibe of Belize or exploring the rich culture of Spain? Maybe you're wondering about the best countries to retire in Europe or searching for the easiest countries to retire to. From tax-free retirement countries to the destinations that receive the most expats, we're diving deep to give you a taste of what life looks like in these incredible spots.

#8 Mexico: A Blend of Vibrant Culture and Affordable Luxury

When you think of retiring in Mexico, imagine yourself indulging in a country that offers a vibrant cultural tapestry, mouth-watering cuisine, and breathtaking natural landscapes. Mexico isn't just a place to retire; it's a destination where life's next chapter is an adventure, offering an unparalleled blend of leisure and excitement that caters to every taste.

Villas Las Palmas Tulum | Resort Communities in Mexico | Mex Condos
Villas Las Palmas Tulum - Resort Community in Mexico

Mexico stands out as a retirement haven thanks to its affordable cost of living, which allows retirees to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle without the hefty price tag. Whether you're basking in the coastal serenity of the Riviera Maya, immersing yourself in the colonial elegance of San Miguel de Allende, or embracing the bustling energy of Mexico City, Mexico offers a mosaic of experiences.

Healthcare in Mexico is a significant draw, boasting modern facilities, highly qualified professionals, and affordability. Many doctors and healthcare professionals are trained in the U.S. or Europe, ensuring high standards of care. Plus, the warm and welcoming nature of the Mexican people makes integration into the local community a joyful experience.

For those concerned about the logistics of retiring abroad, Mexico offers a straightforward path to residency, particularly through its retirement visa, which is accessible to those with a stable income or sufficient savings.

By choosing Mexico for your retirement, you're not just selecting a place to live; you're embracing a lifestyle that's as dynamic or relaxed as you wish, set against a backdrop of stunning scenery, rich history, and a culture that's as warm as its climate.


#7 Panama: Your Tropical Paradise with a Pensionado Program

Panama, renowned for its Pensionado program, stands out as a top retirement destination. This program is not just a policy; it's Panama's warm invitation to retirees, offering a suite of discounts and benefits that cater specifically to them. From reduced costs in healthcare and entertainment to discounts on utility bills and airfare, Panama ensures your retirement isn't just enjoyable but also economically savvy.

Picture yourself waking up to a warm tropical breeze, surrounded by lush greenery and the sound of exotic birds. In Panama, this dream can become your everyday reality. Whether you're drawn to the vibrant life in Panama City or the serene beaches of Bocas del Toro, Panama offers a diverse tapestry of environments to suit any retiree's preferences.

But Panama's appeal extends beyond its natural beauty. The country boasts a high standard of healthcare, with many professionals trained in the U.S. or Europe, ensuring you receive care that's both excellent and familiar. The cost of living is attractively low, allowing your retirement funds to stretch further while you indulge in the pleasures of your new home.

panama pacifico casas modelos16-3307R (Small)
Panama Pacifico homes

Moreover, Panama's strategic location as a global crossroads fosters a multicultural environment, making it easy for expats to integrate and feel at home. The country's infrastructure is robust, with modern amenities and services ensuring a comfortable and convenient lifestyle.

Whether you're exploring the historic Casco Viejo, lounging on a Caribbean beach, or navigating the Panama Canal, every day is an adventure in Panama. The welcoming community of fellow expats and friendly locals will ensure you're never short of company or new experiences.

In Panama, retirement isn't just a phase of life; it's an opportunity for reinvention and adventure, all while enjoying the comforts and conveniences you deserve. Ideal Living is here to help you make this tropical paradise your new home, guiding you every step of the way to ensure your retirement dreams become a reality.


#6 Costa Rica: Embrace the 'Pura Vida' Lifestyle in Your Retirement

Costa Rica, known for its "Pura Vida" lifestyle, symbolizes the relaxed and contented way of life that awaits retirees. This Central American gem offers a harmonious blend of stunning natural beauty, environmental sustainability, and a welcoming community. Whether you're attracted to the lush rainforests, the pristine beaches, or the vibrant culture, Costa Rica provides a serene backdrop for a fulfilling retirement.

International retirement destination
Villa tropical garden and coconut tree overlooking Tamarindo and Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Imagine starting your day with a cup of locally grown coffee, surrounded by the vibrant sounds of a rainforest or the soothing waves of the Pacific. In Costa Rica, this dreamy start to your day is a reality. The country's commitment to conservation and sustainability means you'll live amidst some of the planet's most diverse ecosystems, providing a unique and enriching environment for your retirement years.

Healthcare in Costa Rica is renowned for its high quality and affordability, often cited as one of the best in Latin America. The public healthcare system, Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), offers comprehensive care, while private healthcare options provide additional choices for those seeking faster or more specialized services.

The cost of living in Costa Rica is attractive, especially when compared to North American standards. Your retirement savings can afford you a comfortable lifestyle, allowing you to indulge in the local culture, cuisine, and array of outdoor activities. From exploring national parks to relaxing on the beach, your days can be as active or laid-back as you desire.

The expat community in Costa Rica is thriving, offering a supportive network for newcomers. English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, making the transition smoother for U.S. retirees. Moreover, the Tico (as Costa Ricans are affectionately known) are warm and friendly, embodying the 'Pura Vida' spirit that makes the country so appealing.

Choosing Costa Rica for your retirement means embracing a lifestyle that values joy, health, and harmony with nature. Ideal Living is excited to help you discover this tropical paradise, where each day brings a new opportunity to experience the pure life, 'Pura Vida.'


#5 Greece: Immerse Yourself in Timeless Beauty and Mediterranean Charm

Greece is not just a destination; it's a journey through history, culture, and stunning landscapes. Known for its rich heritage, delicious cuisine, and idyllic islands, Greece offers a retirement lifestyle that blends relaxation with exploration. Whether you're drawn to the ancient ruins of Athens, the serene beaches of the islands, or the charming villages of the mainland, Greece provides a backdrop that enriches your retirement years with its timeless beauty.

Content: Envision your retirement in a country where the past meets the present, where you can spend your mornings exploring historical sites and your afternoons relaxing by the Aegean Sea. In Greece, this lifestyle is not just a dream—it's a reality for many expats who choose to call this Mediterranean gem their home.

The cost of living in Greece is one of its most appealing aspects for retirees. While offering a European lifestyle, Greece is more affordable than many of its Western counterparts, allowing your pension to go further. Whether you're dining out, shopping for fresh produce at the local market, or maintaining your home, you'll find that Greece offers a high quality of life without the high price tag.

Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece.
Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece. Agios Nikolaos is a picturesque town in the eastern part of the island Crete built on the northwest side of the peaceful bay of Mirabello.

Healthcare in Greece is accessible and of high quality, with a mix of public and private options. Many doctors and healthcare professionals are trained in Western countries, ensuring that you receive care that's both familiar and reliable. Additionally, Greece's mild climate contributes positively to both your physical and mental well-being, allowing you to enjoy outdoor activities and a healthier lifestyle year-round.

The Greek people are known for their hospitality and warmth, making it easy for expats to feel welcomed and integrate into the local communities. Whether you're learning a few phrases in Greek or participating in local traditions, you'll find that the cultural immersion enhances your retirement experience, offering a sense of belonging and connection.

Retiring in Greece means more than just living in a new location; it's about embracing a lifestyle that's enriched with history, culture, and natural beauty. Ideal Living is here to guide you through the process of making Greece your new home, ensuring your retirement is as fulfilling and enjoyable as the land of the gods itself.


#4 Belize: Your English-Speaking Tropical Haven

Belize, with its English-speaking populace and breathtaking natural beauty, offers a seamless transition for U.S. retirees seeking a tropical paradise. Known for its barrier reef, lush jungles, and laid-back lifestyle, Belize allows you to immerse yourself in nature and relaxation, all while enjoying the conveniences of an English-speaking environment.

Aerial View Belize
Aerial View Belize

Picture your retirement amidst the vibrant ecosystems and warm, welcoming communities of Belize. Here, you can spend your days exploring ancient Mayan ruins, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or simply enjoying the serene beauty of your new home. Belize's commitment to preserving its natural treasures ensures that you'll have endless opportunities to connect with nature.

One of the standout features of retiring in Belize is the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program, which offers numerous incentives for retirees, such as tax breaks and ease of bringing personal belongings into the country. This program underscores Belize's welcoming stance toward retirees, making it an attractive option for those looking for a hassle-free transition to expat life.

Despite its growing popularity among expats, Belize maintains an affordable cost of living. Whether you're dining on fresh seafood, enjoying local entertainment, or exploring the diverse landscapes, you'll find that your retirement budget stretches further here, allowing you to indulge in the best the country has to offer.

Healthcare in Belize is evolving, with facilities in major towns and private options expanding. While it may not match the high-end medical facilities of larger nations, the healthcare system in Belize is adequate for routine medical care, and major cities offer higher levels of service. For more specialized treatment, expats can easily travel to neighboring countries.

Choosing Belize for your retirement means embracing a life of adventure, relaxation, and natural beauty. With Ideal Living, you can navigate the journey to your Belizean retirement, ensuring a smooth transition to this friendly, English-speaking paradise.


#3 Portugal: A Mosaic of Culture, Scenery, and Warm Hospitality

Portugal offers retirees a unique blend of old-world charm and modern conveniences, making it an increasingly popular choice among expats seeking a European lifestyle without the hefty price tag. From the historic streets of Lisbon to the vineyard-clad hills of the Douro Valley and the sun-soaked beaches of the Algarve, Portugal provides a diverse setting that caters to a variety of interests and lifestyles.

Imagine sipping a glass of fine Portuguese wine on your terrace overlooking a scenic vista, or strolling through cobblestone streets lined with cafés and artisan shops. Portugal is not just a place to live; it's a place to experience, offering a rich tapestry of cultural and natural beauty to explore.

One of the many perks of retiring in Portugal is the affordability. Your retirement income can go further here, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle that includes dining out, cultural activities, and travel within this stunning country. The cost of living is significantly lower than in many Western European nations, yet the quality of life is exceptionally high.

Panoramic view, Ponta da Piedade with seagulls flying over rocks near Lagos in Algarve, Portugal. Cliff rocks, seagulls and tourist boat on sea at Ponta da Piedade, Algarve region, Portugal.
Panoramic view, Ponta da Piedade with seagulls flying over rocks near Lagos in Algarve, Portugal. Cliff rocks, seagulls and tourist boat on sea at Ponta da Piedade, Algarve region, Portugal.

Healthcare in Portugal is renowned for its quality and accessibility. The country boasts a comprehensive public healthcare system, complemented by private options that provide additional choice and convenience. Many healthcare professionals in Portugal speak English, facilitating easy communication and peace of mind for expat retirees.

The Portuguese people are known for their warmth and hospitality, creating an inviting atmosphere for newcomers. The expat community in Portugal is thriving, offering a supportive network and numerous opportunities for social engagement. Whether you're looking to connect with fellow retirees or immerse yourself in local culture, Portugal provides an ideal environment for a fulfilling retirement.

With its blend of cultural richness, natural beauty, and welcoming atmosphere, Portugal is more than just a retirement destination—it's a place to call home. Ideal Living is here to help you make your dream of retiring in Portugal a reality, providing expert guidance and resources every step of the way.


  • Living in Portugal: A comprehensive guide to everything Portugal has to offer for retirees, including lifestyle, residency, and financial planning information.
  • U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Portugal: Essential resources and guidance for U.S. citizens living in or considering moving to Portugal.

#2 France: Experience La Belle Vie in Your Retirement

France is synonymous with culture, cuisine, and elegance, making it a dream retirement destination for those seeking la belle vie (the beautiful life). From the romantic streets of Paris to the serene vineyards of Bordeaux and the sun-kissed beaches of the Côte d'Azur, France offers a diverse landscape that caters to every retiree's dream. With its world-class healthcare, rich history, and renowned culinary delights, France not only promises a high quality of life but also delivers an unparalleled retirement experience.

Roussillon village near Gordes, Provence, France
Roussillon village near Gordes, Provence, France

Envision your retirement in a country where every day offers a new opportunity to explore world-famous art, indulge in exquisite food, and immerse yourself in a culture that's been shaping the world for centuries. In France, you can start your mornings with a fresh croissant at a local café, spend your afternoons wandering through museums or vineyards, and end your day with a gourmet meal and a glass of fine wine.

Despite its reputation for luxury, France offers a variety of living options that can accommodate a range of budgets. The healthcare system in France is among the best in the world, providing retirees with peace of mind knowing that they have access to excellent medical care. Additionally, the country's emphasis on work-life balance and leisure aligns perfectly with a fulfilling retirement lifestyle.

For those concerned about language barriers, many regions popular with expats have communities where English is widely spoken, making the transition smoother. Moreover, the French government offers several visa options for retirees, including the long-stay visa, which allows U.S. citizens to reside in France for up to a year.

Retiring in France means embracing a lifestyle marked by beauty, refinement, and leisure. Whether you're drawn to the cultural richness of Paris, the rustic charm of Provence, or the relaxed vibes of the French Riviera, France offers a backdrop that will make your retirement years truly golden. With Ideal Living, you're one step closer to turning your French retirement dream into reality, ensuring a transition as smooth as a fine Bordeaux wine.


#1 Spain: Embrace Vibrant Culture and Relaxed Living

Spain stands out as a premier retirement destination, offering a unique blend of vibrant culture, relaxed living, and stunning diversity in its landscapes. From the sun-soaked beaches of the Costa del Sol to the historic streets of Barcelona and the verdant hills of Basque Country, Spain caters to a wide array of preferences and lifestyles, making it a favorite among retirees worldwide.

Imagine your retirement in a country where the warmth of the sun is matched only by the warmth of its people. In Spain, you can start your day with a leisurely stroll along a picturesque beach, enjoy a midday siesta, and end your evening with a lively tapas crawl through bustling city streets or a quiet dinner overlooking a peaceful vineyard.

The cost of living in Spain is one of its most appealing aspects for retirees. It offers a comfortable and affordable lifestyle, allowing you to enjoy the country's rich cultural offerings, exquisite cuisine, and excellent healthcare without depleting your savings. Whether you're drawn to cosmopolitan cities, charming villages, or coastal retreats, Spain provides a high quality of life that's hard to beat.

Spanish coastal marina
Spanish coastal marina

Spain's healthcare system is renowned for its high standards and accessibility, ensuring you have access to excellent medical care throughout your retirement. The country's focus on family and community aligns with a lifestyle that values social connections, leisure, and enjoying life's simple pleasures.

For those seeking a smooth transition to retirement, Spain's welcoming expat community and the widespread use of English in popular areas make it easy to settle in and feel at home. The Spanish government offers various residency options for retirees, including the non-lucrative visa, which many expats find advantageous.

Choosing Spain for your retirement means embracing a lifestyle where culture, comfort, and community are central to daily life. With Ideal Living, you can confidently step into this vibrant society, assured of a retirement filled with joy, exploration, and the laid-back elegance that is quintessentially Spanish.


How We Picked the Best Spots for Your Retirement

Curious about how we've handpicked these dream destinations for you? Let's pull back the curtain on our selection process, combining hard data with decades of know-how.

We don't just pick names out of a hat. Our list of the best expat retirement countries is crafted using a blend of the latest data and our 30-plus years of experience in connecting people with their ideal retirement lifestyles. We've leaned on the comprehensive 2023 Natixis Global Retirement Index to get the nitty-gritty on which countries are topping the charts in terms of retiree well-being. But that's not all!

We know that numbers don't tell the whole story. That's why we've also tapped into our deep well of knowledge, gained from over three decades of helping folks just like you find their perfect retirement haven. We consider factors like the cost of living, healthcare quality, expat friendliness, and, of course, those little extras that make a place feel like home. Whether it's the countries that don't tax U.S. Social Security, the easiest countries to retire to, or simply the best spots to enjoy a sunset, we've got the inside scoop. You can trust that our recommendations are backed by solid research and a whole lot of heart. After all, your retirement isn't just about stretching your dollars—it's about enriching your life.

Finding Your Ideal Retirement Destination with Ideal Living

Where you choose to spend your retirement years can significantly influence your quality of life. Why not opt for a location that aligns perfectly with the lifestyle you've always dreamed of? If you're pondering where the best place is to enjoy your retirement, Ideal Living is here to assist you. Selecting the ideal community involves numerous factors: selling your current home, pinpointing desirable locations, considering climate preferences, understanding tax implications, and exploring community amenities and lifestyles, among others. It might seem daunting, but you're not alone in this journey.

Ideal Living is your partner in this exciting phase of life. We collaborate with numerous communities across the globe, ensuring we can connect you with your perfect retirement haven. Everyone's retirement vision is unique, and while preferences vary, our mission is to provide insightful guidance and support at every step.

With over 30 years of expertise, Ideal Living is well-equipped to guide you toward your ultimate retirement destination. We're committed to helping you find a community where you can connect with like-minded individuals, enjoy luxurious, low-maintenance living, and thrive in an environment that meets all your needs—be it a favorable climate, tax benefits, vibrant social life, or proximity to essential services.

Get Your Free Relocation Guide Today

To embark on this exciting journey, we invite you to sign up for our complimentary relocation guide and magazine. Whether you're just beginning your search or eager to delve deeper into the world of master-planned communities, our relocation guide is an invaluable resource. It offers practical tips, detailed insights into various locations and communities, and advice on taking the first steps toward your dream lifestyle.

By signing up, you'll also receive our quarterly Ideal Living magazine, brimming with information about the best places to retire, lifestyle features, and a closer look at our handpicked communities.

Our Ideal Living Relocation Guide includes:

  • Ideal Living Relocation Guide: The ultimate resource to discover your perfect destination, lifestyle, and home. This annual guide features state maps, cost of living and climate comparison charts, and exclusive Discovery Travel Packages.
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We're excited to support you in maximizing the best years of your life. Let Ideal Living be your guide to a retirement filled with joy, comfort, and fulfillment.

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